Herald: HC expresses satisfaction over probe into nun's rape charge
Herald News

HC expresses satisfaction over probe into nun's rape charge

14 Sep 2018 04:49am IST
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14 Sep 2018 04:49am IST
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The court was hearing three separate petitions alleging that the police investigation in the case against Jalandhar diocese Bishop Franco Mulakkal was ‘ineffective’

PTI, KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Thursday expressed satisfaction over police investigation into the allegations of rape levelled by a nun against a Roman Catholic bishop, noting that it was being  conducted in a fair and professional manner. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar made the observations in its order after perusing a report of the investigating officer in the case submitted by the state Director General of Prosecution.

"We are of the prima facie view that the investigation is being conducted in a fair and professional manner and at this stage, it would be inappropriate for the court to issue any specific direction on the conduct of the probe," it said. The court was hearing three separate petitions alleging that the police investigation in the case against Jalandhar diocese Bishop Franco Mulakkal was "ineffective".

One of the petitioners has sought a CBI probe into the case, which has caused public outcry with mounting pressure for action against the bishop. The court had on September 10 sought to know the steps taken by the government to ensure the safety and security of the nun.

Considering a plea filed by George Joseph K of the Kerala Catholic Church Reformation Movement seeking a court-monitored probe into the case, it had asked why no steps have been taken to ensure  the nun's safety and security. In its order on Thursday, the court said the alleged incident took place some years ago and it was quite natural that the probe was taking time.

Any hasty investigation would only allow the accused to go scot-free, it said and posted the petitions to September 24 for further hearing.

The bench said the report indicated that a notice has been sent to Bishop Franco through the Jalandhar police asking him to appear before the investigating officer on September 19.

The Director General of Prosecution has also submitted that a decision regarding the arrest of the accused can be taken only after verification of contradictions in the evidence collected so far.

Since the incidents referred to in the case had occurred between 2014 and 2016, the report shows the police was making all endeavour to iron out contradictions in the statements of witnesses as also the accused.

Besides, the police have provided round-the-clock protection to the St Francis Mission Home at Kuravilangad in Kottayam district where the victim nun and two of the witnesses were staying, the court noted. The bench said there was no reason for it to assume that police would not take action on any specific complaint regarding harassment or threat to the victim or the witnesses.

It said the charge of inducement made to some witnesses was being probed by police and the court had also been assured that the investigating officer would take into account possibility of similar offers or threat to other witnesses.

The police informed the high court that sufficient protection would be provided to the nun. Inspector General of Police Vijay Sakhare, who reviewed the investigation into the case, had said the delay in completing the probe was due to "contradictions" in the statements given by the victim, witnesses and the accused.

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